Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that Health Minister James Reilly’s proposed public consultation on his proposals for Universal Health Insurance has a “pre-determined outcome”, is too narrowly based and must examine other options for health reform. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“Minister for Health James Reilly has today promised public consultation on his plans for Universal Health Insurance. He has stated that hearings will be conducted by the Oireachtas Health Committee. I am a member of the Committee and this is the first I have heard of any such proposal for public hearings of our Committee. Our Committee has received no communication from the Minister or the Department on this matter.
“The Minister and the Department are asking the Oireachtas Health Committee to do their work for them and to shield them from direct contact with the public whom the Minister allegedly wishes to consult.
“To add insult to injury the outcome of the public consultation has already been pre-determined. The public consultation is not to consider whether Minister Reilly’s proposal for Universal Health Insurance based on competing private for-profit health insurance companies is the appropriate way to reform and fund our health system. Instead the agenda has, apparently, already been set and it is to determine what will be in the so-called ‘basket’ of care covered under UHI.
“The Minister should immediately publish the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance and the estimated costings for UHI.
“There should real public consultation and debate, not confined to the Oireachtas Health Committee, but including a citizen’s health assembly which would receive the views and input of people throughout the country
“Consultation should not to be confined to options within the Minister’s proposed UHI scheme, but to examine other options of reforming and funding our healthcare system.
“We in Sinn Féin are very clear what we bring to the debate about healthcare reform. We demand an end to the savage health cuts that are causing misery in our health system. We strongly advocate a universal healthcare system with equal access for all based on need and need alone. We want to see the two-tier public-private system abolished so that no sick person can be left behind. The Minister’s fundamentally flawed private insurance based model will not achieve that.”